I made my first Elizabethan corset back in the dark ages of internet time, when it was still pretty common to ask Real Live Humans(tm) how to do things. I got instructions that were relatively simple – a bust, a waist, divide by two, draw some lines, and presto-change-o, a corset pattern. It’s the method that had always worked for the lady who gave me the info. For me, it was a spectacular failure – too tight, too high in back, and completely uncomfortable to wear. I blamed it on my generally costume-clue-impaired state. But was there something else going on, that could result in two people having completely different luck with the same pattern draft?
Month: April 2010
So I was out trimming the privet hedge the other day, like you do (she says, sounding perfectly British about the whole thing) when I stopped to think, “Gee, I wonder if I could bone a corset with some of these clippings? I should give that a try…” So I did.
The Neck to Waist Length is to the back of the body what the Nape to Waist Length is to the front: the basic measurement of the back of the body. If you’re hoping to make a fitted garment work in back, the Neck to Waist and Neck to Shoulder Lengths are what you need.
The Nape to Waist Length measurement is, basically, the length of material needed to cover the front of the body from the bottom of the neck down to the waist. It is a crucial to take this measurement correctly if one has any hope of drafting a bodice that fits correctly over the bust without riding up at the waist. Nape to Bustline Length tells us where the bust line is situated on the torso, and is also crucial to drafting patterns.
The Neck to Shoulder Length is crucial to making shifts, jackets, bodices, doublets, and basically any other garment with a fitted shoulder and/or a sleeve that sits at the point of the shoulder. If your Neck to Shoulder Length is off, your finished garments will always look droopy-in-the-shoulder (too long) or have that entirely unflattering Ack!-my-sleeves-are-attacking-my-head effect (too short). The first case, the drop shoulder, comes in and out of fashion, but the second is pretty universally regarded as a bad idea….
The Neck measurement is used in fitting any garment or accessory meant to sit closely around, or upon, the neck: collared shirts, gorgets, doublets, chokers, and early ruffs, to name a few.
Ankle measurements are useful for knitting custom socks (why, don’t you?), making jewelry (specifically anklets), and fitting big-poofy-gathered-at-the-ankle style pants (clowns, harem pants, etc).
Calf measurements are used for tall boots, tall spats, and jodhpurs and fitted crop pants.
Knee measurements are used any time a garment fits close around the knee. I mostly seem to use them for making gathered bloomers and knickers.
Thighs happen. I’ve personally always found that a bit disappointing, especially when I try to find pants that fit. If you’re making a bifurcated nether-garment of any sort, and you want it to fit over your thighs, it’s helpful to have a proper measurement. This measurement is also used in many men’s short-pants throughout history (canions, slops, etc).